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Christchurch Santa Parade's future uncertain

Ashleigh Yates

The Christchurch Santa Parade is in desperate need of funding if it is to continue.

The organiser of Christchurch’s annual Santa Parade is worried about the event’s future after a $25,000 cut in city council funding.

Pam Morris has managed the event for 25 years and says it is getting harder to pay for the parade that attracts tens of thousands of people.

In June, the city council gave the parade $60,000 to stage the event on Riccarton Rd - $25,000 less than the year before.

Morris said the reduction in council money came at time when it was getting harder to find other sources of funding.

“It’s self-funding and I really got to go out and find it and it’s really hard.

“Every year I say I’m never going to do it again but I end up doing it.I do it for the little kids. And now I have two grandchildren myself so I know what it is all about now.”

Christchurch City Council events head Richard Attwood said each year it received a greater number of requests for money.

“The trust received $85,000 in 2015. This year they are receiving $60,000, which finds all operational aspects of the event. This is to ensure the event can occur.

“As part of the application the trust continues to apply to a number of other organisations, trusts and commercial companies for support. The council is still one of the largest supporters of the Santa Parade.”

Morris said that the money from the council did not take into account the work that was put in behind the scenes, including storage costs.

“It’s nowhere near enough to meet what we have to pay. It’s very hard and sponsorship is hard to get.

“I think we need a bigger building so hopefully somebody can come up with a building for us, but we are paying well in excess of $100,000 now for this building.”

Along with financial burdens, Morris said the introduction of new health and safety rules earlier this year made it harder to stage events.

“It really scares me now. I send out so many health and safety forms to everybody, all the co-ordinators and they must come back, confirm to me that they have read it, understand its content, then they have got to pass it onto everybody on the float, then I have got section leads who have to go and enforce it before they leave the parade again and you just feel that you are responsible for so much.”

With just two and a half weeks until the big day, the hidden warehouse in Aranui is a hive of activity.

Contractors and volunteers are preparing the 45-themed floats for the parade.

Some of the floats have been in action since the parade started in 1947 and was organised by Sir James Hay.

Morris calls the crew that work on the parade Santa’s little helpers.

“Some are paid but only minimal, most of it is done for love. And they have got other jobs and they come in and do it in their spare time. But a lot take time off work in the week leading up and come and help me.

“We get up on a cherry picker, clean the floats, get absolutely saturated, but we have to because we have got to get them looking nice.

The Christchurch Santa Parade will be held on Sunday December 4, at 2pm, along Riccarton Rd.